Embrace the Thrill and Magic of Winter

Couple sitting around camp fire during winter.

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Michigan in winter… Scenic locations, miles of groomed trails, and an abundance of snow provide ideal outdoor destinations, breathtaking thrills, and alluring enchantment.  Experience the nature and near solitude that make the season so special.  With family-friendly winter sports, frozen glides, extreme climbs, carriage rides and bonfires—Michigan in winter has many fascinating adventures.

Couple sitting at campfire during winter.
Ski Holiday at Crystal Mountain |  Courtesy of Midwest Living Magazine


Cool Fun at State Parks

During the snowy months, outdoor enthusiasts can experience nature and near solitude at more than a dozen state parks. Many of the parks groom trails for cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, and snowshoeing. To access, purchase a State Parks Recreation Passport.
Bay City State Recreation Area
Track seven miles of trails that loop past two 40-foot-tall observation towers. Overnight in a mini-cabin or pitch a tent at one of 189 sites.   
Fort Custer Recreation Area
Four loops near Kalamazoo add up to more than 25 miles of trails open to snowshoers, cross-country skiers, and dog mushers.
Ludington State Park
Cross-country ski on 10 miles of groomed trails or set off on a brisk hike before pitching a tent.
Pinckney State Recreation Area
Remote campsites (and a yurt) reward hikers and cross-country skiers tackling the 25 miles of hilly trails through forests northwest of Ann Arbor.
Tahquamenon Falls State Park
Traverse 16 miles on the North Country Trail (which passes two campgrounds near the Lower Falls) to the Upper Falls in Paradise.
Muskegon State Park
Thrill-seekers reach speeds of 30 mph on the Winter Sports Complex’s luge track. Learn how during a two-and-a-half-hour session that covers steering and safety before flying 650 feet down a curvy hill in less than 20 seconds. It takes considerably longer to haul the 25-plus-pound sled back to the start.

Group snowshoeing through snowy forest.
Snowshoeing | Courtesy of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources


DNR Events

Contact Michigan’s Department of Natural Resources (DNR) for informaton about classes, hikes, lantern-lit cross-country skiing, and guided snowshoe treks at Michigan State Parks.

Fourth and Fifth Graders Ski Free in Pure Michigan!

Whether you live in Michigan or are coming to visit, families with 4th and 5th grade students can download the Cold is Cool Ski & Ride Passport app, and get two to three complimentary lift tickets or trail passes at each of the 28 participating ski areas (over 70 lift tickets total). Proof of student’s grade and $25 app development fee is required. Contact Michigan Snowsports Industries Association for more details and the latest industry news to keep you informed of what's happening on the slopes and in the ski shops.

Snowmobiling to Backcountry Exploits

Grab your sled and rev up the engine—it’s time to ride! Michigan is home to more than 6,500 groomed snowmobiling trails that stretch from the Keweenaw Peninsula all the way down to Michigan’s southern border.  With more than 200,000 registered snowmobiles in the state, and one of the most extensive interconnected snowmobile trail systems in the nation, a day on the sled is a perfect way to explore Michigan snow-covered landscapes. 

Snowmobiling on trail in the Upper Peninsula
Snowmobiling in the Upper Peninsula | Courtesy of Pure Michigan

Snowmobiling enthusiasts will want to plan early to attend one of the sport’s most popular events. Sault Ste. Marie will host the 53rd Annual International 500 (February 1-6, 2021).

Bike Over Snow Covered Terrain

Just because the ground is snow-covered doesn't mean you have to put your bike away for the season. Float over snow-covered terrain on a fat bike’s voluminous wheels. Get those spokes turning along hundreds of miles of Michigan trails waiting to be explored this winter. Fat tire biking, or snow biking, is trending big in the Great Lakes State—and it’s the perfect winter activity to get the adrenaline pumping.  So, go ahead and get outside. Immerse yourself in the beauty of Michigan's natural landscape, all while getting a great workout.

Woman walking fat tire bike through snow
Fat Tire Biking on Snowy Terrain | Courtesy of Instagram Fan meanderwithmandy


Towering Ice Climbs

Experience the thrill of ice climbing as you scale a frozen Michigan waterfall, ranging from 20 to 210 feet tall, while taking in the scenic landscape that only a Michigan winter provides. Lake-effect snow and water seeping from sandstone cliffs combine to form ideal ice-climbing venues in the Upper Peninsula.
In Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, popular climbing spots include the Dryer Hose and the Curtains. It is also home to Michigan Ice Fest (February 10–14). Down Wind Sports, located in Marquette, rents gear and points customers to favorite climbs, including the classic Dairyland in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.  
We invite you to experience the thrill of the climb with this breathtaking video, First Ascent | Chasing Fresh Ice in Michigan's UP | Pure Michigan.

Majestic Rides

The jingle of sleigh bells provides the perfect accompaniment to an evening ride under a starry sky.

Horses pulling sleigh of people through snow.
Thunder Bay Resort Sleigh Ride | Courtesy of Midwest Living Magazine

Visitors snuggle under wool blankets as Percherons pull a sleigh to Thunder Bay Resort’s Elk Viewing Carriage/Sleigh Ride Gourmet Dinner and Wine Tasting near Hillman. Excursions take diners along snow-covered paths, past evergreens and through elk country. Guests sip wine as a chef prepares a gourmet dinner on wood-burning stoves. 
COVID restrictions may alter schedules.  Please contact the resort for updates and cancellations.
Every Friday and Saturday night, guests at Boyne Mountain Resort receive complimentary sleigh rides through the resort’s property.
A mug of hot cocoa warms hands and a bonfire thaws toes after a surrey ride at Crystal Mountain.
During a Marshall Carriage Co. and Ghost Tours horse-drawn carriage ride, visitors see some of Marshall’s almost 150 buildings built in the 1800s.